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Waleed Din, pro boxer and coach on the current series of Fighting Fit Dubai, breaks down the sport’s physical and mental benefits
Boxing is a physical sport, but it is not a just about being in peak physical form. It is strategic and calculated. Your aim is to land a punch on your opponent and move away quickly enough to dodge retribution. If you break that movement down, you will see that, yes, it is about stamina, speed, power and agility, but also about mental acuity, focus, control and lots of heart.
Boxing demands physical and mental fortitude in equal proportions. It is difficult and rewarding at the same time. In a short space of time, the Fighting Fit Dubai series helps people transform themselves. Through the pillars of boxing-oriented training, mentoring and nutrition, it helps them build their confidence, lose weight and gain control.
However, the process needs commitment and perseverance. For boxing novices, we start with the basics. That would be something as simple as learning to move forward and back or how to throw a jab or a cross. Learning how to move with control, agility and speed is a skill that typically needs constant practice but once you nail it, it is the difference between an athlete, who can essentially hit his or her opponent and move out of danger, and a challenger, who is slow and unable to defend themselves.
Stamina is another major part of boxing – hitting the bag for 30 seconds without getting tired is a massive challenge for novices. Compare that to elite level professionals, who fight 12 rounds of three minutes.
One of the most underestimated characteristics in boxing is courage. No one likes to get hit but it also not easy to inflict pain on another human being. The ones that find boxing their calling are the ones who can power through and find a way to win. The ability to think whilst under pressure is what separates the wheat from the chaff.
This lies at the heart of one of the most important lessons: being in shape is secondary to being mentally prepared. As a professional boxer, I have seen several boxers who look like a million dollars in the gym crumble in the ring. Everyone gets butterflies before a fight, but the real contenders are the ones who don’t cut any corners in training, overcome panic and use their nerves to their advantage.
“I know the impact boxing has had on my life and this goes beyond the ring.”
I was a late starter at 16 but having fought 11 professional fights (winning 10), I know the impact boxing has had on my life and this goes beyond the ring. It’s kept me healthy and given me purpose in life. It has also made me a firm believer in the power of “mental imagery” – something that my coach taught me at a very young age, whereby you visualise an event before it takes place. So, when I’m out running on the roads, hitting the bags or shadow boxing, I like to visualise the day of the fight. I go through the entire fight day in my mind.
It does not take a lot to see the benefits this can have outside of the ring – you are always prepared to face challenges head-on.
Season 3 of Fighting Fit Dubai is currently airing on ESPN. For tickets to watch the filming of the final episodes, Fight Night, live on April 26 at Zabeel House by Jumeirah, The Greens, Dubai, visit Platinumlist. Tickets cost from Dhs250.
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